Tag Archives: death


30 Sep


My four year old grandson, Yalith, waved his hand at me and said in Spanish, “Andale.” He began running up the steep dirt road outside our house in Mexico. I hesitated a moment then followed him, puffing and panting under the sun. Our dog Kuma followed by my side, and our cat Brandy hustled to keep up. I’m not proud of much, but I’m proud I have a cat that likes to go on walks with me.

At the top of the hill, Yalith pointed west at the Pacific Ocean, about two miles away. Instead, I looked east, at a parcel of land we owned, where a week before I’d buried Loba, one of our dogs, a Belgian shepherd.

My wife Sophy woke up one morning and looked out the window. She saw Loba lying in the dirt, a bit of pink tongue showing. After calling out “Loba… Loba” she turned to me and said, “I think Loba’s dead.”

I looked out the window and yelled out Loba’s name. She didn’t move. Sophy and I both went out and it was as bad as we thought. The night before, around midnight, I’d walked out to say goodnight to the animals. Loba had been fine. This morning, I knelt by her side and saw there wasn’t a mark on her.

“I think she was poisoned,” said Sophy.

“Poor Loba. She was always eating all kinds of crap.”

When Loba was a puppy, before we bought her for five bucks, she never had enough food. It gave her a sick appetite. She’d attack her bowl like a buzz bomb. She was always slinking into the yard, dragging in bones from dead animals. It was gruesome, especially the day I found her gnawing on an animal’s white jawbone lined with teeth.

I got some duct tape and heavy duty garbage bags and trussed her up. Sophy and I loaded Loba’s body into the trunk of our car and drove up the hill to our spare lot. I dug a grave until I hit solid rock, then slit open the bag and poured five pounds of lime over Loba’s body. I covered her with dirt and piled rocks on the grave.

Today – at the top of the hill – as Yalith ran around overflowing with an excess of joy, I looked over at Loba’s grave. In the back of my mind I was intent on honoring Loba’s memory, telling her I was sorry she was dead.

Instead, I saw the rocks were scattered and white lime marked the ground. I took a few steps and saw black plastic shining in the sun. A few steps more and I saw what remained of Loba. Two thirds of her body had been eaten, but her jawbone remained, with strips of flesh like melted caramel. I looked away, not wanting to see anymore.

I realized Yalith had followed me, so I put an arm around his shoulder and led him away, so he wouldn’t see what I had just seen.

That night, I woke up in the dark and didn’t sleep again for hours. I wasn’t sure what to do with what remained of Loba’s body. Different scenarios played out in my mind until I decided I would get some gasoline and set Loba’s remains on fire. I’d burn it until there was nothing left to be eaten; then I’d bury the ashes.

The morning after discovering Loba’s disturbed grave, I learned that a neighbor’s dog had died a few days ago, from what they were calling a virus. The neighbor’s dog was a small and scruffy mutt who was always hungry. Neglected. Most times when I’d walk by the lot where Loba was buried, I’d see the little guy. I couldn’t help but wonder if the mutt had taken more than a few bites out of Loba and had succumbed to whatever poison had killed her. It made me even more certain that burning Loba’s body was the thing to do.

It was two days before I went back, carrying a shovel and a can of gasoline. My mind kept flashing images of Loba’s skull. I’d imagine scooping up her remains with the shovel and seeing maggots or staring down at an unseeing eye socket.

Two German shepherd mongrels were in our lot, growling at me as I walked toward the grave. Something snapped in me and I picked up a rock and yelled, “It’s my lot, motherfuckers!” They ran off as thrown rocks bounced around them in the dirt.

I got to Loba’s grave and there was nothing there. I looked closer and saw a tuft of black hair tangled in the grass. I searched the brush around the grave but the body was gone.

All I found was Loba’s skull on the ground, picked clean, as though it had been lying in the desert sun for years.

It made me think of the Wall of Voodoo song, with the line, “Just like the spokes of a wheel… you’ll turn ‘round with the rest.”

Rosarito, Mexico Sept. 2015








The Smell

12 Oct

brassai 3


I got back to Rosarito after a trip to The Bahamas and settled into bed with Sophy. She said,” I can’t stand the smell – the smell from the dead dogs.”

I took a deep breath and inhaled the stink wafting in from God knows where. It was coming from the empty lot next to ours. A sweet smell, invasive, clinging to my nostrils. Sophy told me dogs were eating the dead body – she saw them.

I was tired and said I’d deal with it tomorrow.

We woke up the next morning, clinging to each other and I said, “We need a bag of lime”

I woke up, wrote a bunch of stories. Sophy drove out and returned with a couple pounds of lime. In my mind, I remembered European & African tragedies where bodies had to be sprinkled with lime.

Sophy and I walked onto the lot next to our house. There were two dead dogs. An unscathed puppy and a chewed-over mutt with a beef jerky grinning skull. I shook the lime over them, covering every body part I could see.

The next two days the rain came.

I looked out my window and saw the two bodies of the dogs, one much smaller than the other. Even in the rain, the lime clung to the dead bodies, like a candy coating.

I was glad.

Maybe they wouldn’t smell so bad.


Not My Best Friend

22 Apr

Ann called me at work and during the conversation let slip that she’d passed by the animal shelter that afternoon. Warning bells rang in my head. We already had six cats and two dogs and we’d agreed that bringing any new animal into the house would be a family decision.

“You were just passing by?”


“Isn’t the animal shelter on a side street? And the parking lot is flooded and you have to walk over a 2 by4 to get to the front door?”


“Did you get a dog?”


“You know our agreement.”

“I didn’t get a dog.”

“Let me talk to Devon.”

Devon came on the line and I asked, “So what are we going to name the dog?”

“We’re thinkin’ Buddy is a pretty good name.”

I couldn’t fault Ann for her compassion, but Buddy was a complete mess. He was a scruffy and aged poodle whose days were numbered. His white fur was stained yellow and brown and he looked as though he spent years in the lap of a chain-smoking trailer trash granny. He had a huge pair of misshapen black balls that hung to the floor. When approached he’d bare his lower teeth in a snarl, showing ugly little stumps. He never showed any interest in the family and instantly set in to terrorizing our cats.

Buddy lived with us for a few years before going into a steep decline. He was suffering and it was clear that the only humane thing to do was put him down. As usual, we were broke. A friend of Ann’s knew someone who euthanized animals at half what a vet would charge. Anything to do with death was always my job; Ann was good at saving animals, but when it was time to bury a cat it would be me on my hands and knees in the dark, digging a hole.

Ann told me, “He’s going to be at the Ross Junction – the crossroads. He’ll have a green pickup. His name is John.”

I put Buddy in the back of my Rav 4. He was shivering and baring his lower teeth.

On the drive to the junction a white plastic bag blew across the road, the same size, shape and color as Buddy. It unsettled me. I had a living animal in my back seat that I was going to hand over to be killed, no questions asked. I didn’t like it. But I didn’t like being broke. And I didn’t like Buddy.

The handover at the junction didn’t take more than a minute. I gave John $20 and he drove off with Buddy in the bed of his pickup.

On the way home, a black plastic bag blew across the road, the same size and shape as Buddy.